Unethical Tweet Of The Month: CNN/MSNBC Contributor Tristan Snell

To be fair, I’m sure Ken Burns would approve.

Snell is a lawyer, which is how he gets on TV to spout Democratic Party talking points, on the theory that biased, irresponsible propaganda is somehow more credible when a lawyer issues it. Still, lawyers aren’t supposed to lie or deliberately deceive the public. No, Tristan, you idiot, that is not a Nazi salute. I am hardly a frequent church-goer, but even I’ve been at services where the congregation was urged to raise hands exactly like this.

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Ethics Villains: Documentary Maker Ken Burns And PBS

What, you well may ask, is a photograph of Dylann Roof doing in Ken Burns’ latest documentary, “The US and the Holocaust”? Good question.  The answer is, frankly, disgusting.

In the last of three parts in the film, shown tonight on PBS stations nationwide, the now familiar Burns historical story-telling is converted into a partisan, negative, political campaign ad, and not even a fair or respectable one compared to the ugliest attack ads you will see in the coming month. Apparently the tax-payer funded pubic broadcasting corporation decided that the perils facing of its patron Democratic Party in the upcoming election were dire enough to justify turning a legitimate and mostly admirable piece of documentary craft into supplementary material to Joe Biden’s indefensible attack on Republicans as fascists and “clear and present dangers” to democracy.

Burns, to his eternal shame—I will not watch any future Burns works—agreed to betray the trust of his viewers and the integrity of his art by using the last 10 minutes of “The US and the Holocaust” to draw an intellectually dishonest and virtually libelous analogy between the anti-Semites in Roosevelt’s State Department that blocked European Jews from escaping to the U.S. before Hitler sent them to the showers, the Nazis themselves, and those who oppose pro-illegal immigration policies in the U.S. today. Continue reading

“21” Ethics, September 2022: Betrayal In The Air…[Corrected]

This was the date, in 1780, that Benedict Arnold attempted an abortion on the fetal and vulnerable United States of America. He met with British Major John Andre to arrange handing over West Point to the British in return for money and the promise of a high position in the British army. The plot was foiled, narrowly, but Arnold successfully flipped sides and survived the war, moving to England, but never receiving his promised metaphorical pieces of silver.

Clearly, Arnold had not been sufficiently inspired by General Washington’s letter to him five years earlier, when he was George’s most trusted officer:

George Washington to Benedict Arnold
September 14, 1775.

Sir:

You are intrusted with a Command of the utmost Consequence sequence to the Interest and Liberties of America. Upon your Conduct and Courage and that of the Officers and Soldiers detached on this Expedition, not only the Success of the present Enterprize, and your own Honour, but the Safety and Welfare of the Whole Continent may depend.

I charge you, therefore, and the Officers and Soldiers, under your Command, as you value your own Safety and Honour and the Favour and Esteem of your Country, that you consider yourselves, as marching, not through an Enemy’s Country; but that of our Friends and Brethren, for such the Inhabitants of Canada, and the Indian Nations have approved themselves in this unhappy Contest between Great Britain and America.

That you check by every Motive of Duty and Fear of Punishment, every Attempt to plunder or insult any of the Inhabitants of Canada. Should any American Soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any Canadian or Indian, in his Person or Property, I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary Punishment as the Enormity of the Crime may require. Should it extend to Death itself it will not be disproportional to its Guilt at such a Time and in such a Cause.

But I hope and trust, that the brave Men who have voluntarily engaged in this Expedition, will be governed by far different Views. That Order, Discipline and Regularity of Behaviour will be as conspicuous, as their Courage and Valour. I also give it in Charge to you to avoid all Disrespect to or Contempt of the Religion of the Country and its Ceremonies. Prudence, Policy, and a true Christian Spirit, will lead us to look with Compassion upon their Errors without insulting them. While we are contending for our own Liberty, we should be very cautious of violating the Rights of Conscience in others, ever considering that God alone is the Judge of the Hearts of Men, and to him only in this Case, they are answerable.

Upon the whole, Sir, I beg you to inculcate upon the Officers and Soldiers, the Necessity of preserving the strictest Order during their March through Canada; to represent to them the Shame, Disgrace and Ruin to themselves and Country, if they should by their Conduct, turn the Hearts of our Brethren in Canada against us. And on the other Hand, the Honours and Rewards which await them, if by their Prudence and good Behaviour, they conciliate the Affections of the Canadians and Indians, to the great Interests of America, and convert those favorable Dispositions they have shewn into a lasting Union and Affection.

Thus wishing you and the Officers and Soldiers under your Command, all Honour, Safety and Success, I remain Sir, etc….

1. On the topic of letters and betrayals of trust, here’s one written by Sen. Josh Hawley in April  to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, demanding explanations for an academic study finding that Gmail’s spam filtering algorithm was significantly more likely to mark Republican fundraising emails as spam than Democrat fundraising emails. I saw it mentioned again yesterday, but couldn’t relocate the article when I searched on…hey, wait a minute…

Did you notice this in April? I didn’t. I guess the mainstream news media didn’t think it was newsworthy…

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“Attention Must Be Paid”: The Vanishing BYU Racial Slur Saga [Updated]

Ethics Alarms mentioned this nauseating but significant story briefly last week, here. Obviously it warrants more consideration, depressing though the conclusions might be.

At an August 26 volleyball match, match on Aug. 26, Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson’s claimed that she and her African American team mates targeted with repeated racial slurs from a crowd of more than 5,500 people the the Brigham Young University arena in Provo, Utah.  Richardson’s  godmother, Lesa Pamplin, was not at the match but still told the media that someone yelled “nigger” every single time Rachel was serving. Her father, Marvin Richardson, told The New York Times that the slur was repeatedly yelled from the stands at his daughter.

Well, they said it happened, so it must be true.

Moving with unseemly speed, BYU authorities fingered a fan pointed out by Richardson as the racist culprit and announced that he would be banned from Cougars’ sporting events evermore. Duke’s athletics director Nina King quickly said that her players “should always have the opportunity to compete in an inclusive, anti-racist environment which promotes equality and fair play.” University of South Carolina coach Dawn Staley, racing to grandstand, canceled all her team’s games against BYU, since its fans are obviously racists.

“I’m disgusted that this behavior is happening and deeply saddened if others didn’t step up to stop it,” Utah’s Republican Governor Spencer Cox tweeted on August 27 without know what happened. “As a society we have to do more to create an atmosphere where racist assholes like this never feel comfortable attacking others. ESPN resident race-baiter Stephen Smith was in high dudgeon. “I’m saying BYU- you did it!” Smith said on the air. “By allowing this to happen and not addressing expeditiously, not addressing it with a level of quickness and speed that you should’ve addressed this with.”

They banned the alleged racist before the game was over—how much faster could BYU have been?

Mike Freeman, the race and inequality editor for the sports section at USA Today, wrote a column on August 27 in which he called Richardson a “hero” and demanded an investigation. “What needs to happen next is a full investigation by BYU. If the school simply tries to move on with nothing but a statement that simply isn’t acceptable,” he wrote. “They need to interview players and coaches and the question consistently needs to be asked: why wasn’t the game stopped?”

Oopsie! They had the investigation, and found no evidence whatsoever that anyone was shouting racial slurs in the stands. Video showed that the fan BYU banned wasn’t shouting anything when Richardson was serving. Gee, the school said, we’re sorry for calling you a racist! Come back and cheer for us any time!

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We May Have A New Champion For Most Unethical (And Ridiculous) Member Of “The View”…

Yes, it’s Sunny Hostin, “The View’s” token lawyer. Admittedly, the title of most unethical and ridiculous member of “The View” is a tough competition, with  Dunning-Kruger victim Joy Behar displaying her ignorance and lack of critical thinking skills non-stop and Ana Navarro not far behind in the head-exploding gibberish category. But bear with me…

Hostin accused former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley of not using her “real name because she was attempting to hide being someone “of color.” “There were some of us that can be chameleons and decide not to embrace our ethnicity so that we can pass,” Hostin said. “I think if she leaned into being someone of color it [would] be different,” she noted earlier. I guess if you follow progressive cant like a Good German, you get to use whatever name you like. Continue reading

Ick, Unethical, Or “YUM!”?

Oh, settle down: this is an adult blog, after all.

I’ve checked: that is not a gag. A Lithuanian potato chip company has launched a line of flavored chips aimed exclusively at 18-year-olds and older. CHAZZ potato chips come in flavors like mussels, white wine, and Bloody Mary, but it’s the flavor above that is stirring up controversy. I’m not kidding!

I see no reason why someone won’t launch these chips or the equivalent here. Would that be unethical, vulgarizing the culture? Corrupting the young? Nobody accused Bertie Botts’ Jelly Beans of such an offense, and they have just about every flavor except sex-related ones. I presume conservatives would flip out over this product; Ron DeSantis would probably try to get it banned in Florida. Good luck with that.

I must admit, I’m shocked…shocked that Lithuania beat the good ol’ entrepreneurial U.S.A. in coming up with this.

Ethics Hero (Maybe): Actor John Boyega

The British star of the third “Star Wars”  trilogy films “The Force Awakens” (2015), “The Last Jedi” (2017), and “The Rise of Skywalker” (2019) launched a social media tempest when he stated in an interview with GQ,

“I only date Black…then it’s about chemistry, personality, goals. Is there a synergy? Can I help you? Can you help me?”

He’s either very frank and courageous, or extremely naive. Naturally, the Right is pointing to him as an example of the Hollywood culture’s hypocrisy. “Imagine if a white celebrity said this the other way around,” asks the conservative “Gotcha!” site “Not The Bee.” ” If you’re putting skin color above things like chemistry and personality, however,” Holly Ash writes, “I might argue that you’re technically, per the definition of the term, a little racist.” Oh? I might argue that you are using a lousy definition. Racist means that one regards one race inferior to another, to the extent of regarding individuals of the race intrinsically inferior. What Boyega is describing as a bias, and biases are innate, natural, human, unavoidable, and yes, they make us stupid. It is our duty as ethical beings to try to recognize biases and their emotional, irrational nature, and, if possible, get past them. However, preferring the company of people more like yourself than not is a a very natural bias, especially when it comes to romantic and intimate relationships. A racial bias like Boyega’s has to be kept in its proper place, just like, say, a man’s preference for attractive women. That is his right as sexual creature, but the bias is unethical if he’s hiring a staff….unless he’s directing a “Charley’s Angels” movie, or something similar. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Prof. Jonathan Turley

“We are at a critical point in higher education where we must either fight to preserve free speech or yield to a mob-led orthodoxy on our campuses.”

—George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, stating what should have been obvious decades ago.

I am a Turley admirer, but if ever a statement mandated the response, “No shit, Sherlock! What was your first clue?,” it is that one. It is his considered conclusion to a post about the recent silencing of Fox News pundit Tomi Lahren at the University of New Mexico, where her speaking engagement was cancelled by chanting students, a pulled fire alarm, and other tactics designed to keep the campus “safe” from the opinions some students don’t want to allow to be advocated, debated or even heard.

Turley compliments the university’s administration for promising “accountability” (unlike, say, Yale Law School when its students behaved in a similar totalitarian fashion), but even if there is substantive punishment levied, which I doubt, it is just another barn-door fallacy episode. Why are the university’s students behaving like this? Why isn’t the school teaching the values and traditions of the nation and the Bill of Rights as part of its obligation to society and the culture? Why is it hiring faculty members who support these Marxist tactics? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/20/22: ” Seeing Bad Stuff In September” Edition

Stop making me defend Scott Pelley! The conservative news media is beating on “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley for what they are calling a “softball” interview, as if every “60 Minutes” interview of a sitting President hasn’t been just as tame, or even tamer. At least Pelley asked Biden about Hunter. The truth is that Americans still prefer to see their Presidents treated with respect and some degree of deference, unless the President is Donald Trump.

It’s funny: the same outlets that are condemning Pelley as a Democratic ally and hack are wondering why Biden’s “handlers” allowed the blithering POTUS to do an interview at all. Of course the conditions demanded for the interview included no follow up questions, and a softball session. And it didn’t matter! Biden’s performance was frightening anyway, and unlike the 2020 interview with Trump, when Leslie Stahl’s clear objective was to attack throughout, the White House couldn’t complain afterwards that the President was sabotaged by a biased journalist. Pelley asked about Joe’s mental fitness, and Biden replied, “Watch me!” And so we did, and have. He continued,

And it ma—, honest to God, that’s all I think. Watch me. If you think I don’t have the energy level or the mental acuity, then — then, you know, that’s one thing. It’s another thing, you just watch and — and, you know, keep my schedule. Do what I’m doing….“I — I think that, you know — I don’t — when I sit down with our NATO allies and keep ’em together, I don’t have ’em saying, ‘Wait a minute, w— how — how old are you? What are you — what say?’ You know, I mean, it’s a matter of, you know, that old expression: The proof of the pudding’s in the eating. I mean, I — I — I respect the fact that people would say, you know, ‘You’re old.’ And — but I think it relates to h— how much energy you have, and whether or not the job you’re doing is one consistent with what any person of any age would be able to do.”

Whether it was Pelley’s intention or not, he ended up doing what ethical journalists are supposed to do: he let the facts speak for themselves.

1. On the topic of social media viewpoint censorship, this:

It takes a lot of chutzpah for YouTube to demonetize a channel because it violates YouTube’s “values” and then sell ads on the same content.

2. Oh please, please let this happen to me! In an open thread at Althouse, a commenter tells this tale,

A friend’s brother lives in Florida. They recently got new neighbors from NY, a husband and wife. A few days after moving in the wife stops over and sits down. She says, “OK, let’s get this out of the way. I am a Democrat and my husband an Independent. What are you?” Non-plussed, he says he is Republican. For the next 15 minutes he was called every expected name- Nazi, racist, etc. IN HIS OWN F-ING HOME!

It’s my contention that the left now knows its flaws are becoming obvious and are overcompensating to hear themselves repeat their failing worldview…

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Ethics Quiz: Public Art Ethics

“Ancestor,” a new sculpture by Bharti Kher,  has been chosen to reside at the Fifth Avenue and 60th Street entrance to Central Park in New York City for the next year. It’s 18 feet tall, has 24 heads (detail below)….

…and is made to look old and weathered, though it was cast in bronze and is fresh out of the oven, or whatever. The Times says,

“Ancestor” is, at its core, an Indian goddess form, the kind found in Hindu popular iconography, with hair that rises in a bun yet somehow also hangs in a braid. But protruding in clumps pell-mell from her upper body are 23 extra heads, each with its own expression, peering this way and that.

You can read about what the artist thinks this mess means here. I don’t even have a coherent quiz question to pose, just a group of puzzled queries that follow my immediate, “What the hell?” Continue reading